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There was a time when deer hunting was a ground game. Most, if not all, hunters would stake out a spot at the base of a tree and wait. Others would stock deer- following their trails until a weary buck could be caught off guard.
But times have changed, and today's deer hunters like to get into the trees. A treestand is almost an essential piece of deer hunting equipment. But it raises an important question "How high should a treestand be for deer hunting?"
To answer the question, the optimal height for a treestand is between 20' and 25'. And to learn how we got this number, continue reading the information below...
Several tactical reasons exist for using a treestand or getting off the ground.
Better camouflage – being off the ground and among the leaves makes it easier to become invisible to passing deer. You can blend with your surroundings and escape the deer's standard line of sight. Deer are unaccustomed to looking up when searching for potential danger.
Being off the ground also allows the hunter to create a cone of the scent-free area around their location. This is because scent follows the wind and will not reach the ground immediately, thus creating a safe zone from the treestand.
Anyone who has ever spent time in the woods knows that a single squirrel sounds like a freight train moving through the leaves. Yet, a full-grown buck can sneak in undetected. Having an elevated platform allows the hunter a better view, allowing the hunter to see over lower cover and farther across open areas.
A final factor...
When considering these reasons for using a treestand, the general rule is the higher, the better. But one more consideration needs to be remembered – you are hunting, not just watching. This means that you need to both fool the deer and be able to make a fatal shot.
As you leave the ground, you need to consider the shot angle and how it will impact your ability to hit the vital area of the deer. If hunting with a firearm, your shots will generally be farther, lessening the effect of shot angle. Therefore, you can get higher in the tree, with 30' or 40' typical. However, bow hunters will be making shooting at a shorter range, and even 10' can cause a steep shot angle when a deer is only 10 or 15 yards away. At 25', the bow hunter has a narrow opportunity to make the perfect double lung shot.
A 10' to 40' range does not narrow the distance enough to provide an accurate answer. After considering multiple factors, most experts agree that 20' to 25' is the ideal height for a deer hunting tree stand. This will get you high enough to avoid being spotted, disperse scent past the average bow range, and still allow most hunters a doable shot even if the target is close to the tree.
Still not convinced? Let's look at some of the more popular hunting stands and accessories:
This type of stand includes a ladder with a platform or seat attached. Once put in place and strapped to the tree, they offer both bow and rifle hunters a stable option. Not surprisingly, most treestand manufacturers produce stands with a height of between 16' – 18'. Considering the additional height offered when the hunter sits or stands on the platform, the shooting height is between 20'-25'.
These ladder-like devices strap to the tree truck and provide a means of climbing to hanging tree stands. Although hanging stands can be installed at any height, the climbing sticks are usually sold in lengths of 20'-25'. Coincidence?
Whether a simple rope with clips attached or an automatic retrieval reel are a mainstay of tree stand hunters who do not want to climb with their bow or rifle in their hands. At this point, it should come as no surprise that most of these come in lengths between 25'-30' – perfect for hunting 20'-25' off the ground.
By now, some readers think, " I can't get that high," or, for those who dislike height, "I don't want to be that high." Not a problem. Although 20'-25' is considered the ideal height, it is not an absolute, nor does it mean a lesser height will not work.
When selecting the right height for where you hunt, the factors above must be combined with local terrain, your hunting ability, what you are attempting to hunt, and even whether you are comfortable with heights. If your treestand location only allows for shorted heights, here are some things to keep in mind:
Select a tree with limbs slightly higher than the surrounding trees. This will allow you to enter foliage and break up your outline closer to the ground. Selecting a tree within a closing growing group of trees will also help hide you at lower heights.
Your scent-free cone will be smaller, so scent reduction is essential. 10' is the minimum height for a treestand. Any lower will put you directly within a deer's line of sight.
Lower treestands are more likely to be busted by deer. Therefore, chances are your best shot will be your first shot of the day. It is unlikely you will be permitted to allow deer to pass waiting for a trophy to appear.
Regardless of the type of treestand you utilize or the height you are hunting, your first concern should be safety. Each season hunters are seriously injured or die due to treestand accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by falling, either when climbing to/ from your stand or by stepping off the platform during the excitement of seeing a trophy approach. Others are caused by unsafe stands that have not been adequately maintained. All of these accidents are avoidable.
1. Always wear a harness.
2. Inspect and maintain all stands regularly.
3. Know your limits – do not use any stand in adverse conditions or when you are not comfortable with the situation.
4. Let someone know where you will be and when you plan on being home so they can check on you or call for help if you do not return.
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